Federal Reserve announces four new passport service sites amid continuing backlog

The federal government is adding new passport service locations across Canada as the application processing backlog continues.

Social Development Minister Karina Gould announced Wednesday that people can now apply for and receive passports at the Service Canada Center in Sault Ste., Red Deer, Alberta.Marie, Ontario, Trois-Rivieres, Queensland, PEI Charlottetown

Nearly 1.1 million applications for new and renewed passports have been submitted since April as pandemic restrictions ease and Canadians resume travel.

More than a quarter of them had not yet been processed as of earlier this month.

Government statistics show the system is starting to catch up with demand as the gap between the number of passport applications and the number of passports issued each month is closing.

However, a large backlog remains.

In the first week of August, the number of passports issued within 40 working days of application decreased from 81% the week before to 72%.

These figures are not significantly better than the top-line figures in late June, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was forced to respond to mounting complaints and called the system’s performance “unacceptable.” There is none.

In the week of June 20, the percentage of passports issued within 40 working days was 76%.

Meanwhile, call center wait times have been significantly reduced, and “triage measures” have been implemented at 17 passport offices to reduce face-to-face headaches.

Still, delays remain as walk-ins are restricted in most offices and many Canadians wait weeks or months to get an appointment.

Emergency services for those who can prove they need a passport within 48 hours are only available in large cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Gatineau and Quebec City.

Proof of future travel is also required to receive service within two months at the office, which has a processing time of 10 days, including the one announced Wednesday.

As backlash over wait times continues, there are also reports of Canadians making “fake” travel plans, showing them to passport officers, and canceling flights when their applications are in line.

In-person passports have a 95% chance of being issued within 10 days. This standard remains stable throughout the summer.

Gould said the government had failed to anticipate how much demand would surge earlier this year and was unprepared for the glut of mailed applications.

For passport applications by mail, the government website currently estimates a waiting time of 13 weeks plus mailing time.

Beginning at the end of July, anyone who has waited 20 business days or more for a mail-in application and will be traveling within the next 20 business days will be able to go to a Service Canada office to request a money transfer, and they are more likely to receive their application. became. processed before they need to leave.

In response to demand, Service Canada added five new locations for passport services in late July. Brampton and Whitby, Ontario; Point Clair, Quebec; Sundance, Calgary, Alberta; and Richmond, British Columbia.

The agency also ramped up staffing, with Passport reporting 1,936 employees in early August, up from 1,785 a month ago.

Gould is in the process of rolling out passport services to nine or 10 more offices and hopes to make more announcements in the near future.

Mary Daniel Smith

canadian press